Saturday, 10 August 2013

Eating My Way Around North America

In the lead up to my trip around America and Canada, I tried as hard as possible to loose as much weight as I could to ensure I could then eat as much food as I wanted whilst travelling, and not feel so guilty. The latter part was achieved, the weight loss, not so much, but nevertheless even I was shocked when I came home with only a 3kg gain!

The following are a few snaps of delicious meals I, or others around me, consumed. I think its really important to research places to eat whilst on holidays because for people like me, every meal is special. I also hate wasting money on food. I like to know what I am in for and to know which meal is the specialty. But, at the same time and in contradiction of what I just said, some of the best meals were ones we just stumbled across.

Hope you enjoy the pics :)

Lets start with the one city that I have promised myself to go back to with lots of money, just to eat.. NYC

 1. Burger at Shake Shack.. just do it.

 2. Buckwheat crepe with eggs, ham and gruyere tucked inside for breakfast at Balthazaar in Soho. This place is pretty pricey for lunch/dinner but breakfast was fairly reasonable. Plus the service is totally worth it.

3. Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestring Fries at the Spotted Pig - this place is open super late so convenient for after a show/sports game/meal when your drunk and on your way home. This burger was was just meat & cheese. But that was all it needed as this was probably one of, if not the best burger on my trip. And yes, not one fry was left. 

4. Pancakes at IHOP - because a trip to America would not be complete without it.

5. Burger special at Marlow and Sons, Brooklyn. Not sure if it was cause we were feeling a tad rough after exploring the Brooklyn night life, but these were tremendous.
Katzs Deli. Just don't eat anything the day you plan to go here, and order one, but share it with a mate.

 Soul food at Sylvia's in Harlem. Go on a Sunday, be prepared to wait, but take in the atmosphere and then indulge in this - Ribs, Chicken, rice, corn bread and sweet potato mash.

When I showed my parents this photo, and when I suggested this meals to my friends on the trip everyone thought I was crazy. But Chicken and Waffles goes as well as egg and Vegemite, peanut butter and celery and anything else that when combined sounds gross, tastes great. This is at Pies and Thighs in Brooklyn. This was also followed by donuts, many donuts.

Berry scone at Bakeri, Brooklyn. Super cute, small place, freshly baked goods. Kinda in the back streets but worth a visit.

The following are meals that I had whilst traveling with my parents through Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  Most of these places happened to be unplanned because this holiday was thrown together about 3 weeks before I left for NY so I didnt have much time to prepare. But its okay. we survived.

Char-grilled oysters

This is a mixture of typical New Orleans food - Jambayala, crawfish, red beans, sausage and rice.

Beignets at Cafe du Monde - New Orleans

There was something special about this omelet but i cant remember.. oh wait yeah. All that was like <$10. God Bless America.

Bread and butter pudding. and sweet potato pie.

Selection of seafood in Savannah. Note to self, shrimp is overrated.

Dad's ribs and onion rings at the Pirates House in Savannah. I had the Salmon which was delightful.

Dad's sundae at Leopold's ice cream in Savannah. I love traveling with Dad.

High tea with Mum at the Gryphon Room in Savannah. Right near where Forest Gump was filmed.

Fish for breakfast, anyone? was tasty and i think probably less than $10.

BEST MEAL OF MY ENTIRE TRIP! I bought the cook book from this place and have re-created it. Not as good but my this was tasty. Coconut encrusted Halibut with a mango salsa.

This was on fire when it was put down in front of me. The description is to fancy but basically - an orange, scraped out and lined with belgian chocolate, then orange ice cream is put inside, marshmallow on top and then fire. drool...

I loved this meal because it inspired me to add more fruits to my salad. Sometimes salads just taste plain and a bit dry.. add a strawberry. Naturally sweetens it up :)

Now onto Canada..
Visited Meat and Bread in Gastown within the first week of arriving. Wish I had gone back a second time cause it was so delicious and I love when they put it all together in front of you. I love watching people make food with such care.

Chicken Pot Pie - Granville Island. I love markets and these were some of my favorite. Mid week is better as the crowds are overwhelming on the weekend. The produce here is as fresh as it gets but this is reflected in the price of course.

Lucky's Donuts at 49th Parallel.

Donuts fried in duck fat at Edible Canada on Granville Island. Donuts. Duck fat. enough said.

Feast platter at East is East - $22 all you can eat - I literally ate until I felt sick. The food is all organic, mostly vegetarian, but with a few flavorsome meat dishes thrown in. We also finished off with a vegan chocolate mousse which was to die for!

Sushi platter at the Eatery - i had read many blogs that said this was the best, and possibly the most expensive sushi in Vancouver. Have to agree with both but totally worth it!! I forget what was on this plate, as the service was a little slow, and by the time it came out I was at the bottom of a mason jar full of mojito. But they have such interesting combinations and from memory, mango appeared in one. As well as a few different cheeses. And i love the fact that they put yam in sushi.

So these were some of the highlight meals from my trip. Obviously, due to money, time, etc I was unable to get to every restaurant I wanted to. However, I have promised myself to return to NY, just to eat :). America (and Canada I guess) may be considered the nation of fast food and soda, but in between the Applebee's and Wendy's there are so so many nice places and I can't wait to explore them further.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Dinner @ Ocean Foods - Drummoyne

I hate the idea that some people think that in order to get the best fish and chips in the Sydney you have to drive to the Northern Beaches or Bondi when in fact, the best 'Fish n Chips in the Universe' is in Drummoyne.. or so at least they claim that title.and I don't entirely disagree.

I tend to try and not go back to the same place too many times as there are so many amazing resturants out there to try, but this is one of my favourites. Ocean Foods in Drummoyne is a chaotic fish shop that is usually packed out with eager seafood lovers. However  arriving at 7pm on a Friday night it is unusually quiet, which puts the pressure on me as it means less time to decide what to order. K and I had discussed the plan on the way in - I order what he orders as he always chooses the best one - but i cracked under pressure and order something different.

After pondering the food in the huge glass displays, which sets out everything so well, making my decision even tougher (totally keen on the oyster kilpatrick, possibly even a fish burger, or the salmon kebab) I settle with the barramundi in Thai sauce and K goes with barramundi in the Caribbean marinate ($15.90 each). We also order two potato scallops ($2.80), sweet potato chips ($5.90) and a small avocado and prawn salad ($15.90...)

Interestingly, this place has recently expanded (10 weeks ago) and opened up extra seating next door, as well as a wine and gelato bar. It gives a classy touch to the place, moving away from that 'take away' feel, and the added seating is a great idea because on previous visits the downfall has always been the limited seating on the small patio outside. I can't wait to come back and drink some wine here once it gets warmer.

The buzzer goes off and K collects our food. As usual - it looks and smells delicious! The fish is just the right portion, the sweet potato chips are not too salty and the prawn and avocado salad looks tasty. We were both impressed with our barramundi, I even think mine was better than K's this time. The sauce is very light and dosen't take all the taste away from the fish itself. It is also served in the aluminum foil they cook it in to ensure 100% flavor. but unfortunatley the potato scallops were a bit of a let down - way to greasy and heavy/thick for my liking. They are so much better when they are crunchy on the outside! The salad was also a bit disappointing, for what I paid I thought it would be a bigger portion and it was covered in a bit to much oil. Nevertheless I still enjoyed it but wouldn't order it again.

No gelato for us tonight.. I had made a cupcake for K which we left in the car for desert. We wouldn't want to have too many treats for desert. Instead we order a quick coffee and then headed home.

See you soon!

154 Lyons Road Map.41286b1
Sydney, NSW

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Dinner @ Steam Hot Pot Buffet Restaurant - Epping

This is just a 'short n snappy' review of one of my favorite local places - the Hot Pot Buffet at Epping. This is always a fun experience where a large pot of boiling hot water is placed on a gas burner at your table and basically you choose your own ingredients from a buffet and cook it yourself! The pot of water is a broth prepared by the staff filled with an array of spices and small veggies, split into two sides - one being extremely hot (Dad's one) and one for the rest of us normal kids (me and mum). You want to make sure you know which side is which!

An assortment of frozen meats (lamb, beef, chicken), seafood, veggies (mostly Asian veggies) and a range of sauces are available on the buffet and as you pay per head, you can go back as many times as you want!. The staff  also make a dipping sauce for you depending on how hot you want it.

 After you select what you want, plop it in, patiently wait and voila!

Whilst I do love going to this place, I am always a bit scared about what I am ACTUALLY eating, as there is no signage. I asked the young waiter when I was at the buffet what a few things were and found out pigs ear and chicken giblets were in front of me.. there were some that I had already eaten which looked questionable but I didn't want to know what they were e.g think I ate sea sponge but Im going to pretend that never happen!! There are heaps of 'safe' options like tofu, lamb, beef, yummy dumpling, squid and really nice fish - oh and crab claws taste delicious in the dipping sauce!

SO go along to this place for an exciting, slightly messy experience but try and turn a blind eye to what you eat. oh and alcohol always helps (it is BYO and fully licensed). :) Overall experience 6/10

Steam Hot Pot Buffet Restaurant
Shop 28, 74 Rawson St Epping
9876 8111

Breakfast @ Two Peas - Glebe

I go to bed early just to wake up to a huge tasty breakfast accompanied by a nice hot cup of joe. Whether it be eggs and bacon, waffles, pancakes, muesli, fruit and yoghurt - I LOVEEEE Breakfast and thank god K, the boyfriend does to. Downside - K is a cyclist so breakfasts at places that aren't so local are rare, so this morning was a treat.

We drove to Two Peas in Glebe, a cute light filled cafe on St Johns Road. I am not super familiar with Glebe but it seemed to be down the quieter end of the road (it was also 9:00 on a Saturday morning haha) towards Sydney Uni. Owners Nick Johnson and Tom Stoneham describe their little gem as a 'relaxed and fun' place serving organic, local and seasonal produce. The wall on the back of the kitchen explains they cook their produce with the respect it deserves. 

We were greeted and told to sit wherever we wanted and of course, K, chooses the long bench, the only table not set up for diners. This wasn't an issue and we were shortly attended to by a friendly waitress who gave us our menus, which were produced by recycled paper, and took an order for coffee - two long blacks please! ($3.00 each). I decided to go with the big breakfast of organic eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, beans, croquettes and black pudding ($19.50) and K had bacon, eggs and sourdough ($14.50). Both food and coffee (Five Senses) came quick. Due to my restrictive "paleolithic/gluten free/dairy free diet attempt #50000", my croquette, beans and sourdough went quickly onto K's plate.

I just get so happy when people can do a good bacon n eggs, some people really battle with it. Either the egg is cooked to hard, not enough, the bacon is burnt, or you get the shitty bit of bacon which is just the fat. Not this time - Everything was cooked to perfection - except the black pudding - ONLY cause i did not actually eat it!!! I am daring but not ready for that yet! My eggs, when sliced, dripped all over my bacon and tomatoe but not to the point where you just taste egg. oh egg.

Two Peas also opens for dinner and has a private dining room out back for larger groups of guests after some more privacy. Overall experience 8.5/10! A very impressive breakfast!

Two Peas
190-206 St Johns Road Glebe
(02) 9660 0553
Mon to Sat 7am–10pm

Friday, 17 August 2012

Dinner @ The Larder - at Otto

Otto to me, has always been that really expensive place you only get taken to on your very super special occasions - 18ths, 21st, 50ths and etc. So when I heard they were doing a 'pop up' cheaper shindig for three months throughout winter I knew it was the only time I was going to be able to try this food till I turned 50 or got engaged.

Otto is run by head chef, Richard Ptacnik who has worked in globally in places such as Prague, Germany and Switzerland, having moved to Australia and becoming head chef in 2009. The food is an exploration of modern Italian cuisine and the Larder is BYO which is super exciting ('Otto' is not BYO)

For this occasion, my best friend A and boyfriend K joined me. On arrival, just before 7 there seemed to be far too many empty tables, however it meant we were seated promptly.  The friendly waitress explained it was a menu design to be like Tapas, where plates were shared among the table.

Worried that K wouldn't find anything he would like or left hungry, I had showed him the menu a few days before and we had decided he would get the Scotch fillet with herb butter ($25) and a side of mash ($9) and A and I would share. We settled on the salmon ceviche with eschalot, capers and parsley ($16), steamed Spring Bay mussels with chilli, garlic & tomato ($16) and humpty doo barramundi with white beans & smoked ham hock ($26).

First to arrive was the salmon - flavours were fresh and came alive in your mouth. A dish that looked so simple explodes with taste. The one thing I dislike about tapas is that there is never enough of the dish to enjoy it more!! Next, our mussels came out in a huge pot - value for money with this meal! Once again, delicious and fresh and the broth itself was so tasty that once the mussels were finished were continued to spoon out the broth. It was also served with a piece of bread which was warm and crisp - but annoying this was it was only a piece?

K's scotch fillet arrived and unfortunately, it was gone before I could ask for a taste. He said it was delicious, but not cooked to his liking. It was served rather rare and a lot of it was fat. He liked it, but said he had better. He also thought his mash was too rich - A and I disagreed and were more than happy to finish it off! (K is hard to impress!!).

Next, our barramundi arrived. For what we paid, it was a decent sized piece of fish - I honestly would have considered it enough to be a main meal. It laid on a bed of white beans and ham which A described as tasting like 'bacon and eggs' :). Once our plates were cleared we considered ordering the rack of lamb as our neighbors next door had just devoured it but we wanted to save room for ice-cream.

There were deserts on the menu, as we looked around the egg and soldiers (egg nog with short bread $12) looked super cute, served in an egg carton, but we were set on gelato elsewhere.

By the time we left the place was packed with people!! A and I have decided we would come back next time with wine and possibly one other person who shared the same tastes as the other dishes looked exquisite. K also enjoyed his meal and even ventured out and tried a mussel for the first time! Overall, I would say the experience was a 8/10 for me.

I only took one photo of the food, left my camera at home!

The Larder
Otto Ristorante
Area 8, 6 Cowper Whard Road
Wooloomooloo 2011
Monday - Friday evenings 6 – 10pm.